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TSSAA adds girls flag football as a sanctioned sport in 2025

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After two seasons of a high school girls flag football pilot program in Williamson, Davidson and Montgomery counties, the TSSAA voted Tuesday to authorize the sport for the 2024-25 school year.

The TSSAA Legislative Council voted unanimously to authorize girls sports. It will remain a spring sport. The council voted to make it a fully sanctioned sport.

“I think it will continue to drive growth,” Franklin girls flag football coach Donnie Webb said. “I mean, they're female athletes, they're female athletes, and they're competing against each other, just like you know I was a football coach.” 30 years old, and they're competing like boys. They want to win and have fun at the same time. We just want to expand it and grow.”

Participation has increased from nine Williamson County Schools in 2022 to 48 schools, including other counties, this season. The Upper Cumberland region and Hamilton County introduced girls flag football this season to increase numbers. At least 71-73 Tennessee schools are expected to play in 2025, adding 10 schools in Rutherford County and another 13-15 from another county in spring 2025.

“Well, it would be really nice to get some more practice because we work really hard, but to be able to actually be with our team and actually get that recognition as a sport, for example as women's football, that's obvious “Not the case.” “Very popular,” said Franklin junior Samantha Jennings, the Admirals' wide receiver and safety. “It would just mean a lot to us because we work really hard.”

The TSSAA cited the growth of flag football at the youth level and increased scholarship opportunities as reasons to consider a sanction. It also found that about 72,000 boys played TSSAA sports last year, compared to about 40,000 girls.

How Girls Flag Football Began in Tennessee

Williamson County Schools launched a pilot program in spring 2022 with support from the Tennessee Titans. At the time, a Williamson County Schools survey found that 650 of 800 female athletes surveyed said they were interested in playing flag football. It was the first interscholastic flag football league in Tennessee.

“Our principal, Dr. (Shane) Pantall, is a big proponent of student involvement,” Webb said. “We had over 100 girls, which we had to reduce to 28. So it's clear that this would happen to make it happen at some point.

A year later, Davidson and Montgomery counties joined the Middle Tennessee flag football community. Hillsboro defeated Overton for the first Metro Nashville flag football championship. West Creek defeated Montgomery Central in Clarksville's first flag football title game.

Ravenwood won the inaugural Williamson County championship in 2022 and was champion again last year.

Currently, eight states have sanctioned girls high school flag football, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, New York, Florida, Georgia and Nevada. Twenty other states have pilot programs. Like the Titans, the Atlanta Falcons were instrumental in the growth of the sport in Georgia and Alabama. The Falcons helped fund high school teams in both states.

The sport has grown rapidly in the Nashville area. Last summer, a men's professional league, the American Flag Football League, was founded and Nashville received a franchise along with Boston, Dallas and Las Vegas. Fairview football coach Chris Hughes serves as Nashville's coach. The Nashville Nighthawks begin play on April 27 and the AFFL's eight-game regular season runs through June 15 with a championship game on June 22 in Frisco, Texas. The Nighthawks' two home games will be played at Vanderbilt's lacrosse and soccer complex.

Reach sportswriter George Robinson at [email protected] and on the X Platform (formerly Twitter) @Cville_Sports. Harrison Campbell contributed to this story.